15th Sunday OT – Social Justice Homily (readings)
A few years ago, I flew out to Ohio for my brother’s wedding; a day or so before the event my brother, two of his friends, and myself, decided to go out for breakfast to a little place called “Waffle House,” it’s apparently very popular everywhere except here in California.
Anyways, we parked our car down the street, and walked towards the establishment. Literally 10 steps from the door there was a disheveled looking man, and it looked like he was panhandling. As we approached, he stopped us and asked if we’d trade $10 for a rap. Intrigued, one of the guys in our group said, “Sure!” And so this man rapped for us for about a minute. Satisfied with the rap, the man was paid what was agreed upon.
I’m ashamed I didn’t think of this at the time, but the man asked if he could join us for breakfast. Having already gotten to know him a bit, we said yes and enjoyed his company over breakfast.
It was through this conversation with the man that our group came to see his humanity and recognize his dignity as a human person; to this day all of us remember fondly the encounter with the young rapper.
The same is true in the Gospel today, the Good Samaritan saw the inherent dignity of the injured man and made sure that he was cared for.
Here at the parish we do a great job practicing social justice; our community distributes food every Wednesday to anyone and everyone who asks for it, we very much put our money where our mouth is, as a community we pay three people to help our neighbors find jobs, and food, and even toiletries. This is a good thing. We also do a good job on Sunday mornings of preparing sandwiches and delivering them to our homeless brothers and sisters in the area an in downtown LA.
And today Christ in the Gospel asks us to do something more. He’s asking us to see the inherent dignity of each one of our neighbors.
Some of you may know Sarah, the woman who occasionally sleeps on the steps of the Church. Christ is asking us today, to see her inherent dignity, and the dignity of all our guests on Wednesdays and throughout the week.
But what does this look like? Beyond just giving them food?
It looks like eye contact, it looks like greeting them warmly, it looks like conversation, and seeing in them another Christ.
My brothers and sisters, that injured man in the Gospel today is our neighbor, that rapper in Ohio is our neighbor, and Sarah, here at the parish, is our neighbor. Can we see in them their inherent dignity?